The Edmond Sun
To the Editor:
Earlier in the year, several newspapers, including The Edmond Sun, graciously wrote about the manpower crisis of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. As some of you may recall, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is currently at a 22-year low in strength. The low water mark for troopers comes at a critical time when Oklahoma’s population is approaching 4 million and our 98,000 miles of highways and 4,000 miles of state lake shorelines are bustling with visitors and increasing commerce.
Gov. Mary Fallin, from the beginning of her administration, recognized the critical need for more troopers to protect this great state and included the need for more troopers in her 2012 State of the State address and Executive Budget. One of the state leaders that tirelessly championed the cause for improved public safety for Oklahoma is Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. (Jolley is up for re-election this year. He faces Paul Blair in the June 26 Republican primary.)
Thanks to the leadership of Fallin and the steadfast support of Jolley, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a 2013 budget that included annualized funding for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to have a patrol academy and begin to work out of the manpower predicament caused by a lack of patrol academies.
State troopers, like all law enforcement officers, provide a critical service to this great state we all call home. Many times troopers will go unnoticed until a crisis surfaces and our troopers willingly put their lives in jeopardy to man the invisible line that separates our society from chaos and civility. According to the 2011 FBI statistics, from 2008-11 there has been a 78 percent increase of law enforcement officers intentionally killed in the United States. Yet despite the danger, troopers willingly put themselves in harm’s way each and every day to protect their fellow Oklahomans.
It is in this context, on behalf of all the men and women of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, I offer my thanks to Gov. Fallin and principled leaders like Sen. Jolley. With their leadership, we are taking tangible steps to make Oklahoma a safer state for all of our residents.
MIKE THOMPSON is commissioner of the Department of Public Safety for Oklahoma.